Price (RRP): $159
I love fitness trackers – I hate charging them every day. Garmin’s new Vivofit 4 has 2 x SR43 coin batteries that in theory will last over a year. Alas, testing cannot confirm that.
Before we get into the review lets be clear about what we are reviewing.
There are fitness trackers like this which do basic automatic fitness tacking like walking, running, sleep tracking activity tracking, using a multi-axis (usually 3) accelerometer.
So, if it moves, it can be tracked, and the app takes the raw data and interprets it.
A crossover (like the Samsung Gear Fit 2 Pro) pairs to a smartphone to bring across things like notifications, and a music library. It adds a few more sensors like a heart rate monitor.
A smartwatch (like the Samsung Gear S3) can do almost everything a smartphone can do. If it has an eSIM, it can also make and take phone calls. This also has GPS, Wi-Fi and a lot more sensors.
The Vivofit 4 is a fitness tracker with very few crossover features to conserve battery life for that one-year magic use.
Out of the box Garvin Vivofit 4
- The fitness tracker in a choice of colours – black, white (optional strap colours available)
- Quick Start manual
That is it!
Download the Garmin Connect app, pair via the app, set up a Garmin account, and again that is it. Note that the app is used for many Garmin devices and not everything applies to a basic tracker.
The first impression is a smallish, light (25g), fitness band with a prominent matte chrome button and an 11mm square, colour display.
It displays time, steps, remaining step goal, kilojoules burned (divide by four for calories), distance travelled that day, weekly intensity in minutes, weather (max/min temperature), move bar and if you beat yesterday.
It stores up to four weeks of data and syncs to the smartphone when in range.
The display is a sunlight-visible, transflective eight-colour memory-in-pixel but it is a lot duller in real life than shown on the website and has too small a font if you need to wear reading glasses.
My wife volunteered to test it and immediately took the black band off and put on the white one.
She decided to try it 24/7 (apart from a shower – but it is swim proof to 5ATM) – and at 25g it is light enough to wear all the time. She ventures it is not sufficiently elegant replace her Omega day watch but fine for walking and sleeping.
Her take – a one-year battery does limit things (in comparison to a crossover or smartwatch), but it is worth it not to have to recharge!
The app – Garmin Connect
It works on iOS, Android and even has a Windows 10 desktop app – great.
Remember any app only has data from the accelerometer plus it may also have time and on more expensvie models location overlays.
The Vivofit 4 defaults to walking (distance, steps and pace) and intensity minutes (average exercise time). From your personal details (age/DOB, weight and gender) it approximates the number of kilojoules burned.
Compared to a Samsung Gear Fit 2 Pro and a separate pedometer function of two smartphones it understated walking and calories by about 5%. There is a step length adjustment where you walk a known distance (say the edge of a 25m pool), count your steps and enter the data into the app to make it more accurate.
The sleep app interprets body movement over time into deep, light or awake. It seems quite accurate compared to the Samsung Heath app, but the later adds mid-level sleep and an efficiency rating for convenience.
Still, Garmin Connect is a very capable app and supports almost the entire range of Garmin products.
It is small, lightweight and does a good job for me. I have tested other more expensive trackers and smartwatches in the past, but invariably it comes back to the basics – how well does it track walking, sleeping and activity.
I have only been using it a few days, and the proof will be if I continue to use it. My intuition is that I will, at least on weekends where I have time to exercise.
It does do everything that the GadgetGuy stated in the recent announcement.
- One-year replaceable battery life
- Small and durable
- Does the basics well
- Screen is too small if you need reading glasses and only suitable for icon-based notifications
- Dullish display nothing like the intensity shown on the website
- Statistics are limited to 3-axis sensor – no Heart Rate etc.
Ratings – based on a basic fitness tracker paradigm
- Overall: 3.9 out of 5
- Features: 4 out of 5 – basic 3-axis tracker
- Value for Money: 4 out of 5 – there are many basic trackers, so it’s a crowded market
- Performance: 5 out of 5 – One-year battery
- Ease of Use: 3 out of 5 – Easy to use but the screen is dull
- Design: 3.5 out of 5 – fine for what is
$159.00 plus any additional coloured bands